Yommy Ayilara's "WANI": A Half-fact Half-fiction Feminist Odyssey

By Hillary Essien | Nov 16, 2023

Yommy Ayilara’s WANI sees real-life experiences meet with fiction as readers embark on a journey that sheds light on the challenges faced by women in a patriarchal society.

Spanning seven stories, Ayilara fearlessly delves into the harsh realities of gender inequality, unraveling its impact on the personal and professional lives of women. This narrative acts as a beacon, raising awareness about discriminatory practices and cultivating empathy among readers across diverse backgrounds.

In an excerpt from Boys Will Be Boys, the reader gets a front seat into an experience that sets the author on the path of feminism. 

Yommy Ayilara writes:

One of them said "see as she flat" while the others let out loud cackles as though he were the funniest human being ever. You and your friends simply ignored them. This wasn't the first time they would make such comments about you and your friends anyway…

That was what you heard before Lekan ran in front of you, dipped his hand full of sand into your school shirt and poured it down your shirt. His hand now free of sand went around your back and unhooked your bra, leaving the straps to slide off your shoulders as your breasts hung loose from te firmness of the bra you'd just acquired. 

You were utterly shocked, words couldn't leave your mouth, he'd rendered you speechless, you felt so livid with rage, you felt so violated. In the short years you'd lived, no one had ever made you feel so forcibly invaded, vulnerable and disregarded. There were no words to describe how you felt. 

All you knew was that it wasn't supposed to happen, it wasn't right.”

This excerpt vividly captures the emotional impact of harassment, providing a raw and authentic portrayal of the challenges many women and girls face.

The author skillfully weaves a narrative that reflects the harsh reality of casual harassment, creating a relatable and empathetic connection for readers. By addressing the emotional response and the internal struggle of the protagonist, the story sheds light on the importance of confronting such issues.

The book is a powerful exploration of the complexities surrounding harassment, not only highlighting the disturbing nature of the incident but also the societal dynamics that enables and perpetuates such behavior.

WANI touches on each stage of a woman's life, including marriage and child raising. 

Your son had just turned two when you found out you were pregnant again. By now you were married to Tunde for five years and for the most part of the five-year period, you'd spent it regretting the day you said yes to marrying him. 

His behaviour went from bad to worse to plain right cruel…He never held your son again, nor did he help out around the house or with anything. You bore the weight of taking care of everything including him.”

WANI also asks readers to question ingrained biases perpetuating gender disparities. It catalyzes thought, offering profound insights into societal constructs that impede women's opportunities and growth.

It also stands as a testament to the indomitable resilience and strength inherent in women. Through relatable characters and their inspiring journeys, the book empowers readers to embrace their resilience, fostering a desire to create positive change in their lives and communities.

By addressing the diverse challenges faced by women based on race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, WANI underscores the importance of intersectionality. It invites readers to broaden their understanding of the unique struggles that intersect, creating a more inclusive dialogue about women's experiences.

As advocates for women's voices and stories, we encourage you to discover the power of WANI as it transcends the boundaries of conventional storytelling, offering a fresh perspective on the journey towards gender equality. 

Join us in celebrating this empowering narrative that leaves an indelible mark on hearts and minds.


Buy the book here.